FIFA said in a statement Monday that it has “no legal grounds” to remove the 2018 and 2022 World Cup competitions from Russia and Qatar, despite widespread speculation that bribery led to the awarding of soccer’s biggest event to the regions back in 2010.
“Russia and Qatar were awarded the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups by democratic vote of the Executive Committee,” FIFA said, according to CNN. “Based on expert opinions and available facts, FIFA has no legal grounds to take away the hosting of the FIFA World Cup from Russia and Qatar.”
It added: “We will not speculate on possible scenarios and therefore have no further comments for the time being.”
The statement followed comments to the contrary that Domenico Scala, FIFA’s compliance committee chief, made to a Swedish newspaper.
“Should evidence be present that the awarding to Qatar and Russia only came about with bought votes, then the awarding could be void,” Scala said.
On May 27, the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled federal racketeering charges against 14 people, including nine current and former FIFA executives, with seven people arrested near the organization’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
Swiss authorities also seized documents from FIFA offices as part of a separate criminal investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
Alexesy Sorokin, the CEO of Russia World Cup 2018, told CNN last week that Russia’s bid “was clean. It didn’t transgress any FIFA practices, any practices applicable to the bidding process. What else can we say?”
A statement from Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy last week said: “The recent events at FIFA will not impact our preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”